Sherry Fox Clark writes that she “resides in Paradise with her husband Kenneth Mann and their cat Lucky. After 48 years as a salon and spa owner/stylist, carnival food concessionaire, Harley Davidson Franchise owner, Photo Restorer, Merchant Marine and artist, she is now semi-retired and has fulfilled her Grandmother Stella’s dream to place in print her lifetime of adventures.”
“Stella” is Stella Homes Fox, who moved to Chico in 1975 and died the following year, almost reaching her ninety-seventh birthday. Toward the end of her life she wrote about her experiences in Alaska which form the basis of “Once A Sourdough, Always A Sourdough!” ($19.95 in paperback from Memoir Books; available at Made In Chico and from email@example.com). Replete with historical photographs and news clippings, the book is a record of an Alaskan pioneer woman.
“‘Sourdough,’” Clark writes in her introduction, is “a name given to fellow pioneers and miners of the early 19th century in the far North Alaskan Territory, a reference to the leavening used in bread making when yeast is not available.” Stella adopted it.
“I met my future husband, Edward A. Fox” in 1907, Stella writes. “He was an unassuming, quiet bachelor, a kind man, five years my senior, and a successful gold miner.” Married three years later, their destination was Candle Creek “on the northern side of the Seward Peninsula,” population about a hundred people (including eleven women) in 1911. Soon their son K Arthur was born (“K,” Stella points out, is not an abbreviation). Daughter Lola arrived, with special needs, a few years later.
Transportation in the winter was by sled. They met Roald Amundsen “who drove a dog team through Candle Creek on his way to the North Pole” (he wasn’t successful that time).
When mining prospects dimmed, the family decided to move to Seattle. The nearest harbor had frozen and the Coast Guard was called to rescue the party of 14. (The newspaper accounts make fascinating reading.)
Though Candle Creek became “nearly a ghost town,” the family’s deep interest in Alaska continues, and Sherry Fox Clark has produced a loving tribute to her grandmother’s life.